Immediate Response Strategy and Shift to Place Strategy in Submerged T-Maze

Judith S.A. Asem, Peter C. Holland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


A considerable amount of research has demonstrated that animals can use different strategies when learning about, and navigating within, their environment. Since the influential research of Packard and McGaugh (1996), it has been widely accepted that, early in learning, rats use a flexible dorsal hippocampal-dependent place strategy. As learning progresses, they switch to a less effortful and more automatic dorsolateral caudate-dependent response strategy. However, supporting literature is dominated by the use of appetitively motivated tasks, using food reward. Because motivation often plays a crucial role in guiding learning, memory, and behavior, we examined spatial learning strategies of rats in an escape-motivated submerged T-maze. In Experiment 1, we observed rapid learning and the opposite pattern as that reported in appetitively motivated tasks. Rats exhibited a response strategy early in learning before switching to a place strategy, which persisted over extensive training. In Experiment 2, we replicated Packard and McGaugh's (1996) observations, using the apparatus and procedures as in Experiment 1, but with food reward instead of water escape. Mechanisms for, and implications of, this motivational modulation of spatial learning strategy are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)854-859
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Aversive
  • Motivation
  • Place
  • Response
  • Spatial strategy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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